A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Sunday, December 09, 2012

Low Efficient Government

We, the American people, have been wasting our time, energy, and resources arguing about the best type of government for all of us. Some argue that big government is good; tea partiers and fans of Fox and Friends want small government. I myself would be happy just to have an efficient government, or, in other words, any sort of government that works.

I had this latest epiphany when I witnessed a historic moment in Congress this week. First some background: I’m sure we are familiar with a political maneuver indigenous to the US Senate known as the filibuster. This is used when opponents of an idea or resolution want to block the idea/resolution from moving forward through the Senate. Those opposed will take control of the Senate floor and speak on whatever subject comes to mind for hours, or potentially days, on end until the other members decide to move on to other business. (The record — 24 hours 18 minutes - is held by Strom Thurmond when he opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1957.) The concept allows that a filibuster can be executed by one lawmaker or a series of lawmakers.

The obstructionist element known as the filibuster can itself be stopped in its tracks by another maneuver known as cloture. Think of cloture as a mongoose to the filibuster’s cobra. I could devote a paragraph to explain cloture, but sadly, this is not a civics history blog. In short, if you want to know more about cloture, kids, Google it!

This week, the concept of the filibuster had its lowest point ever in American history. In this past week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) thought he had a surefire way to embarrass the Democratic majority. McConnell proposed a vote on the debt ceiling, which is part of the ongoing fiscal cliff crisis (or not). If, as McConnell planned, the Democrats would oppose the vote and not allow it to happen, McConnell could point to them as not being serious about dealing with this country’s deficit problem.

Well, guess what? The Democrats decided not to play along. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) allowed the vote to proceed. His bluff called, McConnell then said that his vote idea was subject to the threshold of 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. (This is that maneuver called cloture which I declined to discuss a few paragraphs ago. My apologies to anyone who actually broke away from my blog to Google the word “cloture”. You can come back now.)

In other words, McConnell was threatening to filibuster his own proposal. Now, for a filibuster to be truly efficient, it needs to be done to other lawmakers who hold an opposing point of view to your beliefs. The key word here is “other”, as in someone else who is not you. Obviously, McConnell hasn’t grasped this key point about the concept of the filibuster.

He filibustered himself! He opposed his own proposal! He argued with himself as if he were any one of a number of the stereotypical homeless who wander the streets of our cities!

If this incident happened in Japan’s Diet, there would have been hari-kari swords involved! Obviously Japanese lawmakers still value dignity over the idiocy of hypocrisy. More power to you Japan!

This is a new milestone in government inefficiency. We have long had these maneuvers in place to block, obstruct, or otherwise kill the passage of ideas on their way to becoming a law. Used wisely, these maneuvers can be beneficial in keeping bad ideas from becoming law. This week, we saw how inefficient our government can be even when it is trying to be, um…inefficient.

This Congress cannot get anything right! They created this whole crisis last year to force themselves to deal with the complex problem of budget deficit, government spending, job creation, and raising tax revenue. One problem: this also didn’t work! This Congress kept kicking the can down the road, through the Presidential election (okay, to be fair the election was a small distraction with such loopy ideas as self deportation and 47%), and now finally they have weeks to keep all of us from jumping off the fiscal cliff! 

This whole situation would be hilarious if it weren’t for one fact: we, the American people, are paying these people to do these stupid things. We could all have a good laugh if it weren’t for the fact that we, the American electorate, saw how little this Congress did in the last four years, and yet we rehired the entire lot (save for 5 or 6 seats in the Senate) for another term of two-to-six years.

What was McConnell thinking? What were WE thinking?

It is no wonder that both Congress and the President can’t agree on a solution, if McConnell’s maneuver is any indication of the level of intelligence we now have in the legislative branch. I really wish there was a punch line here, but there isn’t! There’s just an odd assortment of men and women posing as lawmakers who can’t seem to resolve anything because they’re too busy maneuvering around each other to make our government work efficiently.

As we have seen, it takes a lot of work to be inefficient.

(Thank you for reading! Swordfish! That’s the best punch line I can think of at this time.)


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